Remember when I told you guys back in the offseason that the Colts were in good hands with the new staff? I told you that the offense new head coach Frank Reich was bringing with him from Philly would be a perfect match for Luck's skill set. I also mentioned that I thought it would take by week 6 for the defense to come around and based that off of the team having so many young players who would need time to "figure it out" in a new system. Well if the first two games are any indication, the defense might not be far behind the offense. This young bunch of "I don't know any betters" spear-headed by the emergence of standout rookie LB Darius "The Maniac" Leonard has been nothing short of flat out amazing. When you compare this group to previous ones, the one thing that stands out immediately is the overall speed of the defense. I don't think I've ever seen a Colts team this fast from a trenches standpoint.
I watched the game against the Redskins this weekend and couldn't help noticing how quickly the D-linemen shot of the ball and wrecked havoc on a Skins O-line that was predicted by many to man-handle the Colts to the tune of Adrian Peterson going off for 200 yards rushing. AP didn't even sniff 50 for the entire game. He didn't even sniff 30. From Marcus Hunt to Jabaal Sheard Indy's front seven was a force to be reckoned with all game. One guy who has been overlooked though has been the surprising play of Hassan Ridgeway. Ridgeway was a monster until he injured a calf in the 2nd quarter. I counted numerous plays where he fired of the ball so fast that he was literally in the backfield at the same time Alex Smith was handing the ball off (When's the last time you saw that from a Colts defense?). The surprising play from the defense this early can only be accredited to two things: 1) Chris Ballard's eye for talent. and 2) Players being prepared for each game by their coaching staff. It's no secret how I've felt about this coaching staff and from office we now have in Indy. I've said on more than one occasion that before its all said and done this current front office and coaching staff will go down as one of the very best we've ever had here in Indy. In fact, Chris Ballard should lock up Matt Eberflus NOW before the end of the season because there's no doubt in my mind that he will be a hot commodity come this offseason for a HC job and it will probably start after the first game we play against the Jags.
I know everyone is on the Jags bandwagon and toting them as being the best team in football right now, especially after the way they beat the Pats last week. I, however, am not that impressed with them because I will never be a believer in Blake Bortles. He will only thrive in games where he is not required to carry his team on his shoulders. As long as you can stop the run and limit your turnovers against the Jags D, they are very beatable. I don't care what Bortles did last week against NE because I predicted the Pats will slide this year anyway. They really weren't that impressive last year and if we are all honest with ourselves, they haven't been since Darrell Revis was with the team. The Pats have had the luxury of playing in the weakest division in the AFC for well over a decade now and that has played a major factor in their continued "success." That said, the Colts should take a page from NE and do for Eberflus what the Pats did for Josh McDaniels. "Pay him. Pay that man his money." I'm not saying he should get the kind of money that McDaniels is getting, but I am saying at least make the effort to pay him enough to at least make him think about staying. Continuity is so important in this league especially when it comes to the coaching staff, or in the Colts' case keeping what could be one of the best staffs in the game intact for the long haul.
I know it's still very early, but I'm still not backing down from my bold predictions for this year's Colts team. I think they will be more than ready to challenge the Jags for the AFC South crown and due to the edge at QB I think we are more than capable of winning it. Unlike most fans, I'm not judging the Jags off of what they did vs the Pats. I judge them off of how they looked vs an offensively inept Giants team led by an over the hill Eli Manning in week one. The Giants are a team the Jags should have dominated, yet escaped with a 5 point win with one of their scores coming from a pick-six by the defense. That doesn't exactly spell "Superbowl" team to me. Mark my words. The Colts will be a force to be reconned with this year and the coaching staff that is now in place will be a big reason why.